For small agency owners, sharing your ideas may appear counterintuitive to developing a competitive advantage in your market niche. After all, what else do you have to stand out in such a crowded space?
Publishing your particular methodology, writing detailed blog posts, or weighing in on social media conversations gives your competitors all the information they need to steal what makes you unique and perform better than you, right?
Well, luckily for you, this is very unlikely to happen in a way that negatively affects you. In fact, sharing your ideas is actually one of the best strategic approaches to securing a competitive advantage.
What is a competitive advantage?
Before we explore the unique value you can bring, it’s important to understand what we mean by a “competitive advantage.”
The idea of competitive advantage is nothing new and has forever been a factor in business success. In essence, it’s an attribute that allows your company to generate more value and outperform your competitors who offer the same product or service. Most importantly, your competitive advantage must be difficult or impossible to replicate.
Embracing a new world
You can claim many competitive advantages – from unique access to resources to highly skilled labor, and everything in between. Traditionally, many small businesses have relied on physical location as a competitive advantage.
While location can be a powerful factor, it’s a strategy you have to develop when competing online and not an advantage that you intrinsically have like with physical retail stores. Without taking steps to develop your location intelligence, you are essentially competing with the entire world, as literally anybody, anywhere, can offer the same services as you.
Competitive advantages in the digital world
Without honing in on your unique strengths, there’s no way you can hope to compete with the thousands of other agencies available worldwide. Thankfully, three useful strategies are available to help you gain a competitive advantage:
- Cost leadership: Becoming the lowest-cost producer.
- Focus: The niche that you uniquely serve.
- Differentiation: Something that makes your product or service stand out.
What advantage do I have as a small agency?
The strategy you pursue depends on:
- The clear benefit you can provide.
- The target market you have chosen.
- What your competitors are doing.
With these in mind, let’s explore the strategies that are open to you.
As a small agency, we can disregard cost leadership from the start. The only way that cost leadership is effective is by embracing the economy of scale. In food terms, it’s the difference between Walmart and your local store.
For digital agencies, you might compare shared hosting providers like GoDaddy with your own managed VPS offering. That’s not to say you can’t use price as a tactical advantage in the right circumstances. But basing your entire strategy on being the cheapest in the industry will make it very difficult to achieve long-term growth. You simply don’t have the resources to compete on cost.
Narrowing your focus is at the heart of what we believe at GoWP—that niching down is one of the best ways to grow your business. We even have an entire Facebook group dedicated to it. The fact is that limiting your services does not limit your growth potential.
Instead, focusing on your services helps avoid the problem we mentioned above where you’re competing with the entire world. If you’re offering website services, identifying a specific niche is essential for developing a competitive advantage.
But having a specific niche identified is not necessarily enough. Even within your niche, you could still have many competitors. This leads us to the most appropriate strategy for small agency owners: differentiation-focus.
By focusing on a narrow and highly specialized market segment while leveraging clear points of differentiation, you will be able to stand out from the pack. And often you will get to charge a premium for your services.
What does this have to do with sharing my ideas?
Remember how we said that differentiation is “something that makes your product or service stand out”? When the service itself is essentially the same (creating and maintaining websites), the point of differentiation must come from the experience the customer receives.
Customer experience is the most critical concept in modern marketing, hands down. What’s more, it’s an incredibly vast area that requires proper alignment between strategy, technology, product quality, and internal teams to achieve.
But within this overarching concept of customer experience, there is one factor that influences conversion more than any other—how much the prospect trusts you (your authority).
By sharing your ideas, you provide insight into the experience that they can expect, and you are also displaying the values your company believes in, the expertise you possess, and your commitment to transparency.
This is where your true points of differentiation become the most evident. And this is also how you establish your authority within your niche.
Having your ideas stolen
If your competitive advantage is well thought out, it should be difficult or impossible to replicate. When it comes to sharing your ideas, there’s a safeguard built in. Quite simply, this is because they are your ideas. They reflect so much about you and your business that any attempt to copy them will pale in comparison.
Yes, competitors may take aspects of the ideas you share, but that won’t harm your business in the long run. You are still demonstrating the trust, expertise, and unique way your company is run that made it viable in the first place.
So, if you do see someone copying you, you can smile knowing that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery—their copying confirms you are doing something right!
At GoWP, we take great pride in sharing our best ideas and outsourcing our prized talent. Instead of being competitors, we can support each other and help small agencies find their niche and thrive.
If you’d like to find out more about us, feel free to join our Facebook group or contact us directly!